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Mon, Mar 27, 2006

Gone West: Angelo d’Arrigo

'Birdman' Lost In Sky Arrow Accident

They called him the Birdman... Italian pilot Angelo D'Arrigo, who flew with flocks of geese across the Siberian wasteland, and trailed Step Eagles above Tibet. He was even known to have surprised Mount Everest expeditioners in 2004, by flying above the summit in a hang glider.

Aero-News has learned D'Arrigo died over the weekend at an airshow in Comiso, Italy, when the Sky Arrow in which he was a passenger crashed. The pilot of the aircraft, retired Italian military officer Guilio de Marchis, also died when the small plane tumbled out of the sky from about 650 feet.

D'Arrigo seemed most at home in the sky, among his fellow high-fliers. In 2001, he guided a migratory eagle over the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea via hang-glider, completing the first "free flight Sahara crossing" in history, according to a post on MountEverest.net. It was the first of several such expeditions, which caught the attention of scientists studying the migratory flights of various bird species.

The pilot was also known for his flights over some of the world's tallest peaks. In 2004, D'Arrigo stunned climbers on Mount Everest when he flew a hang-glider over the fabled peak. During that flight, he also released a Himalayan eagle in Everest National Park.

He later broke his own altitude record, set on the Everest trip, by flying nearly 30,000 feet over Tupungato volcano, in the Andean Cordillera on the last day of 2005. D'Arrigo was planning to go to Antarctica next year, to hang-glide over Mount Vinson.

D'Arrigo maintained his kinship with birds by sponsoring the Condor Research Project, which cared for and gave flying lessons to two condor chicks raised in captivity. The pilot was planning to release the two birds into their natural environment in the Peruvian Andes next year, according to MountEverest.net.

Another pilot will now need to handle that trip... but we feel those birds will still be helped aloft by the guiding hand of Angelo d'Arrigo.

FMI: www.angelodarrigo.com

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